Tomorrow is my last day at the job I have been at since I graduated from college. This has been a relatively easy conversation to have with the firm – I am pursuing a completely different career path and, thus, our parting is cordial. I tell them that it is not personal, and that is the truth, in that I know that this industry as a whole is not for me. But let’s be serious just for a minute – everything is personal. We are humans, not robots; we all have thoughts, emotions, and opinions, and as I prepare to leave, these intangibles have unavoidably been amplified.
I have a reputation at this firm of being rather quiet, and this is definitely fair, but take it from an introvert – just because one does not consistently vocalize opinions and thoughts, does not mean that one is not consistently developing opinions and thoughts. Sometimes I think that I internalize mostly because I have so many thoughts going through my head that there is not enough time to vocalize them. My mouth can’t keep up. You couldn’t keep up. And all of that being said, I like to think that my silence allows me ample time to observe, reflect, and, ultimately, build strong, well-structured ideas. I promise you, I notice everything, and after careful consideration (followed by re-consideration), these things are engraved in my memory. I have undoubtedly learned a lot here, probably more than I can realize in this moment, and by this I do not mean to say that I feel particularly knowledgeable about financial markets and reporting — I mean to say that I have learned an enormous amount about people, management, friendships, and leadership.
As I prepare to depart this office, there are many things I would like to say to various people, but, alas, sometimes these things are not worth saying. Take it from an introvert. I am not a believer in negativity – I recognize that constructive criticism is a thing of value and purpose – but I am not arrogant enough to believe that my opinion matters to you, nor do I believe that, as I walk out the door, my word-vomit thoughts would be constructive. On that note, I leave you with thoughts of (what I hope to be) a positive nature.
To the partner that cares:
You are one of those people that, despite your busy schedule and heavy responsibility, when you ask how someone is doing, you actually stop to listen to the answer. I can tell the difference, and I appreciate it.
To the man in the office across from me:
I’d like to tell you that your heart is much too pure for this place, but I think that is probably true of most places in this world. In that case, telling you that isn’t really constructive. The “real world” has dealt me a cold, hard slap in the face. This has been a rude awakening. Outside of the bubbly oasis of kindness that is the state of Maine, away from my friends and family, amidst a series of unfortunate events, you have served as a pseudo-brother/father figure reminding me of my faith in simple, genuine human kindness. Thank you for that. As a parting gift, I would like to give you a lock on your door that prevents negative people with their negative energy from entering and taking advantage of your kind-hearted spirit, but, unfortunately, I have no such power. In any case, this office is a better place with you in it, so I hope for everyone’s sake you continue to survive those senior consultant meetings.
To the woman who sits in the cubicle next to me:
I hear you. I hear your phone conversations with your disabled husband, your Alzheimer’s-suffering father, your mentally ill brother, and your various other friends who lean on you for help. I know of all the financial, emotional, and mental burdens you selflessly accept without a moment of hesitation – burdens that so many people have come to expect you to carry.
Your manager seems to think that because you will never surpass him on the corporate ladder, he is therefore allowed to talk down to you – to treat you as an inferior. This makes my skin crawl. Every time he decides to embarrass you in front of others or lecture you about eating habits, I secretly root for you to snap back, but I know that you won’t. You are too scared to lose your job, knowing that you financially support just about your whole damn town, but you are also better than that. I just want you to know that there is someone out there who has noticed, and thinks you are a rock star. You may never surpass him in status or paycheck, but in terms of fundamental human qualities, you are twice the person he is.
To my friend at the other end of the floor:
I have watched you, another victim of inconsiderate and corporate-climbing management, retreat so far into your shell that you are unable to see how big the world is and, more importantly, all that you have to offer it. I hope that you regain your footing. You have allowed one person to dictate your self-analysis, and squash your spirit. I wish you could see yourself through a different lens, because others think highly of you, and I am quite convinced you have no idea. On the other hand, I wish you would let people see that, in addition to your intelligence and natural talent, you are a genuinely good human being.
In one of the first months of my time here, I interjected a Holden Caulfield joke into the conversation, which no one understood. I mean, total crickets – total confusion, and I knew that I didn’t belong here. On that note, I leave you with another brilliant Holden rumination – “I am always saying, ‘Glad to’ve met you’ to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.”
I’m kidding (again), guys. Seriously, I am glad to have met you all.